FC Tulsa Claims Critical Victory Over San Antonio FC

Two goals involving Eric Bird and Marcus Epps paved the way for a critical 2-1 win with the playoffs looming in just over a month.

Monday, September 4th 2023, 11:23 am

By: News On 6


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FC Tulsa claimed a victory against defending league champions, San Antonio FC, at the University of Tulsa on Sunday night.

Two goals involving Eric Bird and Marcus Epps paved the way for a critical 2-1 win with the playoffs looming in just over a month.

Bird and Epps helped get the club its first goal of the night just 14 minutes into the match. Epps led Bird on a run into the box, and Bird made a shot with enough force that the San Antonio keeper could not corral the attempt. The rebound leaked into the goal for a 1-0 FC Tulsa advantage.

“It was just a good team effort all around. We knew that these guys are super intense, and they want to press us high up the field. We knew we had a little bit of quality, if we broke their first line of pressure, that we could find spaces. Marcus found a couple good spaces, Milo and Phil found some good spaces, Blaine in the first half as well. We had a couple chances, and we were able to take them. It was just a good night to be out here on the grass, in front of the fans – we love playing in front of our guys and their home. It was a fun time and complete team effort to get stuck in all the way till the end," Bird said.

The goal constituted Bird's third score of the campaign, marking the first season in which the captain has scored three times since 2017 as a member of Rio Grande Valley FC Toros. Epps collected his fourth assist on the play, tying Moses Dyer for the club lead.

San Antonio looked to respond in the second half with two subs at the break, but FC Tulsa elected to lower its block to stifle the visitors' scoring chances.

Epps and Bird combined once again for FC Tulsa in the 68' minute, but this time it was Epps who garnered the glory. Tulsa initiated the counter to perfection with Bird slotting in the pass in from the wing, finding Epps in front of goal who lifted his shot into the upper corner for his eighth goal of the season.

“We did a great job going over their style of play this week, coaches just did an excellent job breaking it down. We could see late runs, third man runs, we were open today when we got out and we broke. Eric benefitted of that with a great run and finish, and then the same thing with his run through for the assist – it’s about never letting the play die and it paid off tonight," Epps said.

With the goal, Epps now trails Phillip Goodrum's top Tulsa tally of nine by only one score.

San Antonio cut the deficit in half 12 minutes later by way of a Rida Zouhir goal, but Blair Gavin's defense remained sturdy the rest of the way to close out the 2-1 victory over the "Mentality Monsters" from San Antonio.

FC Tulsa moved back into possession of eighth place in the Eastern Conference with the win, good for the final playoff spot with only six matches remaining in the season.

Head Coach Blair Gavin hopes this win will give the players a confidence boost as they continue with the season.

“I think it should give us confidence that whoever we play, we can give them a challenge for a result. That’s something I’m hoping the guys take away, that when we play a team like the defending champions, we keep them busy and we can take them to the end of the game. When we execute, we can beat them. I hope that we carry that momentum into the next games – it won’t be easy, we’re playing a lot of really good teams, but I hope the guys know that we’re a really good team. When we put it all together it’s nice to see," Gavin said.

Only two home matches remain in the 2023 regular season for FC Tulsa, including next Saturday's contest vs. Phoenix Rising FC. The match will take place at ONEOK Field and kick off at 7:30 p.m. CT.

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